Expression of p-AKT characterizes adenoid cystic carcinomas of head and neck with a higher risk for tumor relapses

Diagn Pathol. 2009 Jun 19;4:18. doi: 10.1186/1746-1596-4-18.


Background: Adenoid cystic carcinomas are rare tumors with an indolent clinical course, but frequent local relapses. The identification of tumors with a higher relapse risk seems to be interesting. Hence we investigated parameters of glucose metabolism, which were found associated with poor prognosis in other malignancies.

Methods: Specimen of 29 patients were investigated immunohistochemically with antibodies against p-AKT, TKTL-1 (transketolase-like 1), M2PK (M2 pyruvate kinase), and GLUT-1. Proliferation was investigated by staining with Ki67. The tumors were located at the major or minor salivary glands. Only the typical cribriform subtype was investigated. The initial tumor stage was pT1 or pT2.

Results: Expression of p-AKT was significantly (P = 0.036) associated with a higher relapse risk in multivariate analysis. Low expression of M2PK was non-significantly (P = 0.065) predictive for a higher risk. TKTL-1 and GLUT-1 were expressed in the majority of cases, albeit not associated with relapse risk.

Conclusion: Adenoid cystic carcinomas positive for p-AKT show a higher relapse risk. However, other parameters of glucose metabolism investigated here or proliferation (Ki67) were not predictive in this entity. Our findings demonstrate a possible background for therapeutic approaches targeting the inhibition of PI3K/AKT pathway.